Act, Don’t React: Five Tips to Create a Great Online Reputation

5 tips for reputation management

The best defense is a good offense.

If you live in a household where TV football broadcasts provide the normal Sunday afternoon ambiance this time of the year, you probably hear that truism almost every week.

But while it’s generally true that the best defense is a good offense in football, it’s even more true – and important – in managing your online reputation.

And if you think because you’re a smaller business, or because you have really nice clients or customers, that you’re immune to online reputation problems, you’re wrong. The scary fact is that a single person who sets out to harm your reputation can do a lot of damage.

Before I serve up the “meat and potatoes” of waging your reputation management offense, let me urge you to keep tabs on what people are saying about you and your business. Monitoring isn’t time consuming and it’s a very inexpensive insurance policy. Set up a Google alert for your name and business. You’ll get an email whenever the search engine finds something new about you.

With that said, let me tell you our goal here: To keep positive or neutral mentions of you and your business at the top of Google search results. Sounds simple, right? Frankly, it is, but it requires activity on your part and that’s the guidance I’m going to provide.

To achieve that goal, here’s our strategy: Drum up as many positive and “matter-of-fact” online mentions of you and your business as possible and keep working at it.

If your Internet web presence is fairly narrow, perhaps your small business website and Facebook page, then Google will not have many results to show. If someone started badmouthing you or your business on one of the free blog websites, for example, that bad publicity would probably pop up in a search.

Here are five easy ways to creating glowing search results for yourself and your small business:

  1. Establish social media accounts everywhere. Google indexes social media accounts, so if you have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Vine, and others, those will command a lot of territory on the first page of your search results.
  2. Be active in the community. Do things that get you and your business mentioned on the websites of other businesses, individuals and media outlets. Volunteer your time. Make donations. Give free talks.
  3. Guest post on other websites. What you need to understand here is that one guest post, with an accompanying “About the Author” blurb on 10 different websites is far more valuable than 10 different posts on one website.
  4. Post your job openings online. Google finds companies who list jobs in the various online employment sites. Even if you don’t have any openings, go to these sites and create a profile on each one.
  5. Actively send press releases to local media outlets. Whenever you or your business does something worthy of notice within your community, write a short press release that gives the details. If there are online community calendars in your area, send them information regularly.

If you take these steps, it will be difficult for a lone malcontent to do you very much harm. However, keep monitoring your online mentions and if someone does get on your radar screen with a complaint, make contact and do your best to resolve it, even if it doesn’t rank high in search results.

With a little understanding, generosity, and tact, you can probably turn a negative mention into an endorsement.